Monday, November 18, 2019

The How & the Why - Review

The How & the Why

By: Cynthia Hand

Publication: November 6th 2019 by HarperTeen

450 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Source: Publisher via Edelweiss (Thank you!!)

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Goodreads description--A poignant exploration of family and the ties that bind, perfect for fans of Far From the Tree, from New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Hand.

Today Melly had us writing letters to our babies…

Cassandra McMurtrey has the best parents a girl could ask for. They’ve given Cass a life she wouldn’t trade for the world. She has everything she needs—except maybe the one thing she wants. Like, to know who she is. Where she came from. Questions her adoptive parents can’t answer, no matter how much they love her.

But eighteen years ago, someone wrote Cass a series of letters. And they may just hold the answers Cass has been searching for.

Alternating between Cass’s search for answers and letters from the pregnant teen who gave her up for adoption, this voice-driven narrative is the perfect read for fans of Nina LaCour and Jandy Nelson.

Adoption stories warm my heart. I am not completely closed off to the idea of adopting one day. I have cousins who were adopted. And another cousin fostered two amazing and sweet babies until the court placed them with their maternal grandmother. Sometimes adoption stories aren't always happy. So I was intrigued to read this one by Cynthia Hand considering her personal experience with being adopted.

Honestly, I started The How and the Why pretty quickly after being approved for it. But then the book starts with the biological mother writing a letter to her unborn child. She isn't forced to do so exactly but she isn't really into it either. That part didn't endear her to me. And then Cass tells her best friend that she thinks she's ready to have sex. And I was like "what?" And this is where I put the book back down again. I just questioned whether I wanted to read this book after all. But I gave it some time and then came back to it closer to publication.

And you know what? Like a paragraph later kind of helped me right on past my issues. I still think Cass's statement about being ready for sex wasn't fully explored. Perhaps discussing how certainly they're happy she is in their lives, but that she might want to avoid putting herself in a situation that could result in becoming pregnant herself the same way as her biological mother at 16. Granted, Cass was already 18 and considered an adult.

The other issue that initially caused me to put The How and the Why down for a bit was S, the biological mother. Her second letter explains a good bit more, and her subsequent letters even more so. We really begin to learn about her and connect to her. So I was able to move past the things that initially turned me off about her.

The How and the Why has no romance. Honestly, there wasn't much room for one, and the book was still good without it. Yet I always prefer a romance. Personal preference that is no fault of the book's but I feel I should mention.

I will say that The How and the Why made me want to be a part of the theater in some way. I wish I'd had the opportunity to do more of that kind of thing in school. Maybe my kids will enjoy it in the future.

The How and the Why ended up being a really good book. I enjoyed the process once I picked it up the second time. Honestly, the break was probably the best thing for my enjoyment of this book. My personal reading preferences missed the romance, but the book really didn't need one. I also teared up at one particular part, but no tears actually fell. The How and the Why gets 4 Stars. Have you read The How and the Why? What did you think? Let me know!


  1. I'm kinda on the fence about this one. It sounds pretty good. Hopefully my library will carry it soon. I'm glad you were able to come back to it and enjoy it.

  2. doesn't really sounds like one for me, but i do like feel good stories so i never know what will hit the spot. :-) glad you enjoyed it

    sherry @